Hiding the Truth to Keep His Son
Soap Opera Serials Magazine, September 1977
by J.M. Fitzmartin
Article Provided By Wanda
Seneca Beaulac clutched the telephone in his hand, too numbed by the news it had just brought him to even hang up. He stared at the black receiver, wondering at the instrument of torture it had suddenly become. So, Edmund Strong Coleridge, the child he had believed til this moment to be his son, that he had helped deliver and breathed life back into when life began to slip away, that he had loved and cuddled and marveled at, was Frank Ryan's's baby after all.
Ever since the surgery that saved little Edmund's life, Seneca had lived a nightmare. During the operation he'd discovered that Edmund's blood type was not only compatible with his, but also with Frank Ryan's. He would have to get a blood sample from Jill and match it with his own and Frank's to determine who really was the baby's father.
When the infant's eyes began to show evidence of damage from the hydroencephalitic condition that Roger Coleridge's surgery had saved him from, Seneca saw an opportunity to find out Jill's blood sub-type. e and Jill would take the baby to a pediatric expert in Philadelphia, who would not only check out Edmund's condition but would also get a blood sample from Jill on a ruse, so Seneca would know at last who was Edmund's father. Now, after the telephone call from the Pennsylvania physician, he knew.
Only the arrival of his nephew Bucky Carter broke Seneca's miserable spell, and with resignation Seneca told him the disappointing news. Bucky had been his confidant throughout the ordeal, and even before Seneca had time to absorb the reality of what the doctor had told him, Bucky was pressing him to tell Jill and Frank the truth. With a sigh, Seneca admitted Bucky was right; they would have to know. But he was going to wait for the right moment to break the news to Jill; she would have to be carefully prepared.
But the right moment never seemed to arrive. Seneca never intended to deliberately keep Edmund's paternity a secret, of course, but when Jill told him she and Frank had quarrelled bitterly because she chose to go with Seneca and Edmund to Philadelphia rather than attend a political conference important to Frank, Seneca decided to just keep quiet. He loathed Frank Ryan and despised what he thought was his exploitation of Jill, and he wasn't about to reconcile them forever by announcing Edmund was Frank's son. Seneca wanted the boy and his mother - and slowly the stringent moral code of rights and wrongs that had ruled his life began to bend.
Just when Seneca had come to terms with his deceit, Roger Coleridge forced him into an even more compromising situation.
Stung that Dr. Beaulac would not rehire him as chief neurosurgery resident at Riverside Hospital after his miraculous treatment of Edmund, the evil side of Roger surfaced again. Finding the charred remains of a blood test report smoldering in Seneca's office ashtray, Roger's curiosity was piqued. When he discovered the hospital blood bank's records of both Seneca's and Jill's blood types were mysteriously missing, Roger knew he was onto something big. With time on his hands and blackmail on his mind, Roger decided a trip to Trois Pistols, Seneca's hometown in French Canada, just might turn up the clues he needed. Sure enough, Seneca's mother unwittingly helped him discover records of blood work-ups in the local hospital. Now he didn't even need to know his sister's blood group to figure out the answer to this riddle.
Back in New York, sitting in Seneca's office in the hospital, Roger slyly told Seneca what he had discovered. Never coming right out and saying he knew the baby was Frank's, Roger alluded to blood types and paternity and rolled his eyes in such a fashion there was no mistaking his message: Return him to the medical staff, or else. At that moment, Jill burst into the room with the good news of Edmund's latest tests and in that moment Seneca was forced into a fateful decision. When Roger boldly announced Seneca had asked him to come back to work, and Jill gushed her excitement and gratitude, Seneca grudgingly confirmed it.
Never had Seneca compromised his principles so. He was a man who believed completly in the truth, no matter how painful it might be. He had an unflagging system of values that had guided him throughout his life, and his high-mindedness made him insufferable to those less demanding. Seneca had a keen sense of right and wrong and when a man didn't meet his tough standards, a man like Roger Coleridge, for instance, well, that was the end of him. At least it used to be. Now because of Edmund and his need for him, Seneca would secretly renounce those values - at least until he found the courage to risk the truth.
But for now, he is willing to pay any price for love, even if it costs him his self-respect.
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